Thursday, March 6, 2003

UC 87, UAB 70


Freshmen Kirkland, Moore energize Bearcats

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Armein Kirkland had 18 points.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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Ever since those first glimpses of his potential, in the second half of the Xavier game way back in December, the University of Cincinnati coaching staff has been waiting for forward Armein Kirkland to play the way his talent dictates that he should.

Finally, in the last home game of the regular season, Kirkland came through with a career-high 18 points to help the Bearcats turn back UAB 87-70 Wednesday night before 12,524 fans at Shoemaker Center.

Senior Leonard Stokes, playing his last game at the Shoe and his first college game with his mother in attendance, led the Bearcats with 23 points, but it was the play of Kirkland and freshman point guard Chadd Moore that offered a glimmer of hope for the Bearcats as they continue to push for their 12th straight NCAA Tournament bid.

UC (17-9, 9-6 Conference USA), also kept alive its hopes for a first-round bye in next week's conference tournament.

UAB (16-10, 8-7) was led by Mo Finley's 24 points.

[img]
Jason Maxiell, second from right, is held back by Leonard Stokes and UC assistant Andy Kennedy during a second-half scuffle.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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UC played without backup center Rod Flowers, who was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, and forward Eugene Land, who left the team for personal reasons.

Playing against a UAB team that likes to score in transition, the Bearcats were determined to attack the basket and do some running of their own. That played right into the hands of Kirkland and Moore.

"I thought Armein really put some pressure on the basket," said UC coach Bob Huggins. "If we're going to get better, we've got to find somebody else that can play. Armein's really talented. It's just that we've had a hard time getting Armein to do things the way we want him to do it."

UC's 87 points were its second-highest output of the season. The Bearcats scored 52 in the second half, two less than they did in their 101-point outburst against Louisville, but did it this time without the benefit of 58 free throws.

[img]
Leonard Stokes is fouled by UAB's Sidney Ball.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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The game was marred by several incidents of pushing, shoving and trash talking between the two teams.

The most serious occurred with 6:22 to go and UC leading, 71-54. UC's Jason Maxiell and UAB's Brandon Tobias got tangled up with each other, prompting Tobias to push Maxiell away. Tobias was immediately called for a technical foul.

Players from both teams began to mill around the UC foul line, bringing Huggins and UAB's Mike Anderson onto the floor to help restore order. Assistant coach Andy Kennedy quickly restrained Maxiell.

"It was tough," Maxiell said, "but I realized if I swung back, I'd have to sit out the next game. I couldn't do that to my teammates. I had to play smart."

If Kirkland can duplicate his performance, the Bearcats will have another offensive weapon to go with Stokes as they head into the postseason.

[img]
Maxiell looks for a shot whilebeing guarded by Gabe Kennedy of UAB.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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The 6-foot-8 freshman from Tyler, Tex., was 5-of-9 from the field, 8-of-10 from the free throw line. He scored in transition and off rebounds.

"We've just got to get the mindset going into March that we've got to attack and put more pressure on people to guard us," Kirkland said. "That's the way we like to play. It worked for us tonight. Hopefully we can build on that and take it into the NCAA Tournament."

UC trailed by seven midway through the first half, but Stokes led a 13-2 run that gave the Bearcats the lead. They were up by three at the half, then gradually pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 23.

Moore, who played 14 minutes because of Taron Barker's foul trouble, had five assists with no turnovers and pushed the offense into high gear. It was his longest stint since the Jan. 25 Charlotte game.

"During the week (Kennedy) was telling us that they like to run in transition," Moore said, "but they don't like to get back. I just tried to push the ball and get it to open people."

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com

Stokes goes out with teary eyes
Land leaves UC; Flowers suspended
UC women dominate C-USA team

UABMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Kennedy15180030322
Ball21020041410
Bush32252421116
Finley2881535502424
Jones24360242436
Collins195924422313
Broom3110001002
R. Davis1002200102
Cobb10000000000
Johnson6000010010
Eddins19230032524
C. Davis21353351119
Tobias9130001302
Totals200265712203211261870
Team rebounds: 1.

CincinnatiMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Stokes35714771222323
Maxiell322477713511
Hollman13220000214
Williams232130013106
Barker27240044346
Moore14122315304
Meeker2002201002
Lucas2000000100
Hicks8111220203
Bobbitt183922300110
Kirkland1759810510218
Johnson9010010010
Totals200255929333917171787
Team rebounds: 3.

UAB3238-70
Cincinnati3552-87
Attendance-12,524. 3-point goals-UAB 6-12 (Ball 0-2, Finley 5-6, Jones 0-1, Collins 1-3); Cincinnati 8-23 (Stokes 2-3, Williams 2-9, Barker 2-4, Moore 0-1, Bobbitt 2-6). Technical fouls-UAB: Tobias, Finley; UC: Williams. Officials-Thibodeaux, Scagliotta, Ware.




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